Friday, 2 September 2011

The Local Tourist - Part Two - Lotherton Hall and The National Railway Museum, Yorkshire

Our second "local tourist" activity in Yorkshire was another daytrip, this time with the Yorkshireman's dad. I demanded coffee en route to our ultimate destination and so we stopped off at Lotherton Hall. I got my caffeine fix in the gorgeous little café and somehow managed to resist the urge to sample the delicious-looking, homemade baked goods on offer (next time!). However the Yorkshireman and I did succumb to a fridge magnet from the little shop to add to our collection. We didn't really fancy paying admission to the House itself so we just had a quick walk around the gardens, which were lovely. I saw actual deer, which was quite exciting for a city girl like me.

Then it was back on the road to one of my favourite cities in Yorkshire: York. Have you ever been to York? It's really very quaint - I love wandering through the tight little streets, looking at all the quirky little shops. Also The Fudge Kitchen, aka "The Yummy Fudge Shop". Oh The Yummy Fudge Shop... I was determined not to indulge this time around but normally within minutes of stumbling upon the place, I'm working my way through a bag of sweet, smooth, gooey fudge, the likes of which I have never found anywhere else. Apparently Fudge Kitchen have several other UK shops… intriguing! This time though we had a specific purpose in mind for our visit to York and fudge was (sadly) not on the agenda.

We were going to the National Railway Museum instead! I've mentioned before that museums and I are not generally BFFs. I find looking at stuff I'm not interested in through glass display cases really boring, no matter how old or significant it may be. However I am a big fan of museums that are more interactive. Looking at things is pretty dull, but playing with them, climbing on them or making them do stuff is fun! When the Yorkshireman and I last visited Belfast's Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and I had great fun "interacting" with the exhibits (even the ones you technically shouldn't - shhhh!), so when my father-in-law confirmed that, yes, you could clamber all over the trains there too, I had high hopes for York's National Railway Museum.

I'm a little torn about the experience to be honest. The ratio of "climb aboard" exhibits to "don't even think about it" exhibits was pretty low. I think there were maybe three or four trains you could actually go on to, and even then it was only one tiny bit of the train, and even then most of them had huge queues. Several other exhibits weren't working or had been removed. Also it was crazy busy, with small children screaming the place down and tripping you up every few minutes. Also the restaurant was pretty expensive.

However there were also a few great bits. I really loved the viewing platform that looks on to York Railway Station, complete with a live updates board so you can see where the trains coming in and out are headed. I also quite enjoyed the little movie you can watch about Japanese Bullet Trains, whilst actually sitting in a real Bullet Train carriage. The Yorkshireman's dad made fun of me for taking advantage of a dressing-up area and posing for a photo with a conductor's hat on, but that's the sort of stuff I love doing in museums. Also, in my defence, there was totally a sign that said dressing-up clothes were available in adult sizes too, which is an invitation to play if ever there was one!

Did I enjoy the Museum? Yes, I'm glad I went. I'm not really a train buff but even I found most of the museum interesting enough and it was cool to see all the different shapes and sizes and varieties of train. Would I go back? To be honest, probably not, unless they had some wonderfully exciting new exhibit. For a free admission museum it's definitely worth a visit, but I would avoid weekends and school holidays. Oh and next time I would totally get the little road train into York. I still regret not bullying the Yorkshireman and his dad into doing that!

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